Friday, January 17, 2014

Steward’s Log 6 January 2014

On a rainy April night in 2006 the Grass Valley City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of the Wolf Creek Parkway, thereby adopting the Parkway Alignment Study and Conceptual Master Plan.  This action came on the heels of an extensive series of public meetings that confirmed widespread community support for the project.  A “Wolf Creek Trail” is also mentioned in the 2020 General Plan adopted in 1999 and the Downtown Strategic Plan from 2003.

So what is it?  The plan calls for a multi-use trail along the creek from the corner of Idaho-Maryland and Sutton Roads, down through town to Glenn Jones Park at the North Star Mining Museum.  Connecting trails are planned both in the Loma Rica development at the upper end, and at the lower end thanks to the Bear Yuba Land Trust.

The Conceptual Plan divides the Parkway into six different sections, or “Reaches.”  Each Reach has its own particular set of choices to make and obstacles to overcome.  Folks in 2006 suggested it may be more feasible to obtain funding and approval for one or two Reaches first.  Obstacles include sections with very little room adjacent to roads and private property, some sticky engineering challenges, channelization of the creek in concrete furrows, and several lengthy sections where the creek travels under roads and parking lots.

The Parkway will provide

Increased public access to the creek
Outstanding alternative transit and recreational opportunities
Greater protection for the riparian habitat of the creek
Pocket parks to sit and relax
Art and Interpretive installations

Wolf Creek needs allies. Like most “commons,” it has been virtually invisible, neglected, used, and abused since the get-go in the 1850s.  Like most common wealth – air, waterways, oceans, sidewalks  – it is taken for granted and not valued in the complex accounting of GDP and “economic growth.”

The time has come to change that and move forward.  And not just for the creek’s sake – but for OURS!  A healthy visible accessible creek in the heart of Grass Valley will make us proud.  It will help us feel good about ourselves.  It will increase property values and the economic vitality of our home and our connection to it.  All citizens and visitors will benefit from the “shared values” derived from Wolf Creek – the “real gold in Grass Valley”.  Urban river and creek rehabilitation has given a boost to the downtown areas of San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, Napa, Santa Rosa, and Tempe AZ.  Plans are underway for a major rehabilitation of the Los Angeles River!

There remain many issues to be sorted out.  Funding needs to be secured for design, engineering reports, environmental review, permits, and then contracts for implementation.  There are alternate routes and other connecting trails to consider.  The Parkway is a long-term project to be sure.  It will take years really.

But we are confident that intelligent, well-meaning folks of all stripes can find ample common ground here. Together we can sit down and make something happen.  In doing so we create a bridge between state and market, public and private, left and right, logos and mythos.  Cities and towns are the political entities making stuff happen these days.  Pragmatic and visionary mayors, city councils, business and social entrepreneurs, and citizens groups are not waiting for the political farce being played out in DC and so many statehouses.  Aren’t we all smarter than that?

The Wolf Creek Community Alliance and other Parkway supporters have begun a series of meetings with city personnel, property owners, civic groups, non-profits, schools, and individuals to spread the word and gather momentum.  We seek solutions to all concerns that can be worked out by all stakeholders and interested parties coming together.  Contact us if you want to help.  In the meantime, talk to people.  Walk along the creek.  Sit by it.  Listen to the concerns of those who live or work along the proposed Parkway.

And remember, we have tomorrow bright before us like a flame!

Bruce Herring
Parkway Steward
Wolf Creek Community Alliance